December 30, 2018

I ended by big year doing the Yaquina Bay CBC with Clint and my birding sister Lindsay. It was a beautiful day weather-wise, but a tough day because I had the worst sleep of my life the night before. I mean, it was so bad that it’s just worth mentioning here because it coloured my day a bit 😦 But …

The CBC was fruitful! And, my 2018 big year has come to a close!

265!

Honestly, I could have chased another bird on the 31st, but why mess with a number like 265 (plus I had to work). 265 is perfect.

Bird 265 was a FETCHING BLACK-AND-WHITE-WARBLER! A rare bird out here in Oregon, the black-and-white is a mostly eastern warbler that generally winters in Mexico and Central America. This individual has been hanging out for at least a month now in a stand of alders across the street from Ona State Park just south of Newport, OR. Interestingly enough, another (or the same?) black-and-white overwintered in this same spot in Oregon last year.

In Ona State Park I got bird 264, the Magnolia Warbler, another rare warbler for Oregon that’s been seen in this spot almost daily for a couple of months. The Magnolia is also an eastern warbler that generally winters in and near Central America.

I got photos of neither warbler because they were moving pretty fast, and my camera is sub-far for fast-moving birds in poor lighting. The Magnolia, I suspected correctly, would only be in view for a few minutes, so I just enjoyed her with my bins. I attempted to get photos of the black-and-white, but instead I ended up with many photos of moss and lichen growing on alders. Many. If anyone out there is doing a study on moss and lichens growing on alders in the PNW, I have photos for you. Bonus points if you can find a Black-and-White Warbler in these shots. I cannot.

Birds 261 through 263 were a Brandt, Eurasian Wigeon, and an Eared Grebe.

What follows are some out-of-order photos from the day!

For those of you who have made it this far and have followed/read my blog in 2018, holy smokes thank you!

Or, thank you, Dad, for being my one reader!

I have blog posts that will follow this one that detail my next birding adventures and challenges for 2019!

Yaquina Bay Estuary Trail; Newport, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.
South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photography by Lindsay Willrick.
Yaquina Bay; Newport, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.
Oregon Coast; south of Newport, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.
Yaquina Bay; Newport, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photograph by Lindsay Willrick.
Fox Sparrow; Ona State Park; Seal Rock, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.
Western Grebe; Yaquina Bay; Newport, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.
Horned Grebe; Yaqhina Bay; Newport, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.
Surf Scoter; Yaqhina Bay; Newport, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.
Common Loon; Yaqhina Bay; Newport, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.
Surf Scoter (look at my cute tail!); Yaqhina Bay; Newport, Oregon; December 30, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 4
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 265



December 16 and 17, 2018

We birded the Union, Oregon, area for the Union County Christmas bird count. It might have been the windiest day I’ve ever experienced willingly. Our area yielded a total of 24 species, including a Barn Owl. The following day, we birded north of La Grande, Oregon, and I got a few American Tree Sparrows.

New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 260!

 

December 1 and 2, 2018

When I grow up, I’m going to establish a local bird “seed area” just outside my town. Here, I’ll regularly distribute high-quality bird seed, and birders will frequent this area and can even bird from their car if they wish (helpful in Oregon when it’s raining). Rare sparrows will visit, and my seed area will become a birding hot spot. Non-birding locals will assume we are up to no good, and that will make us birders feel a little badass for once, outside our birding circle. Nevermind that we are all in Subarus or Priuses.

One of these established seed area hot spots “near” me is in Lane County near the Eugene airport.

After our failed attempt to re-locate the Tundra Bean-Goose at Finley, my birding sister took me to this seed area on December 1, 2018, to see if we could get the recently recorded Harris’s Sparrow. We birded the area for a good 2 hours, and the Harris’s Sparrow did not pop out from the “brambles” (invasive blackberries). My very wonderful consolation prize, though, was a fetching White-throated Sparrow, another “oh you’ll get that species eventually, don’t worry” bird.

Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada!

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The Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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A White-throated Sparrow and friends (blurry junco and a white-crowned); the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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White-crowned Sparrows and a Golden-crowned Sparrow; the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Oh sweet White-throated Sparrow; the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Song Sparrow; the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Amazon Creek near the Bond Road seed  area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Amazon Creek near the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Badass birders at the Bond Road seed area; Lane County, Oregon; December 1, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 2 (including a Sharp-shined Hawk)
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 257

I re-located the Tundra Bean-Goose at Finley the next day, December 2! No photos. I got too excited, shared my scope with other birders, and then a Bald Eagle flew in and shuffled the deck.

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 258

 

November 28, 2018

If you look at the Eastern Bluebird’s range map on eBird, you’ll see lots and lots of purple generally west of Colorado. You’ll now see a little purple square on Oregon, as of November 26, 2018. Two (!) Eastern Bluebirds were first reported by Portland birder Eric Carlson at the Dharma Rain Zen Center in east Portland. As of yesterday (December 25), the pair is still there and being visited almost daily.

I visited them in the pouring rain on November 28, 2018, in their famous Yellow Tree. Prepare your eyes for a feast of EABL photos taken with my phone, through my scope (which was precariously propped up on my car’s passenger seat), through my car’s open window. Did I mention it was pouring rain, too?

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New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 255

November 23, 2018

A failed chase to find a reported Yellow-billed Loon north of Garibaldi, Oregon, finally yielded me a Bonaparte’s Gull and Red-Breasted Merganser (one of the “oh you’ll get that species eventually, don’t worry” birds). I had been worried.

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Red-breasted Merganser; Nehalem Bay, Tillamook, Oregon; November 23, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

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Birders looking for the Yellow-billed Loon; Nehalem Bay, Tillamook, Oregon; November 23, 2018; photography by Linda Burfitt.

New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 254

November 19, 2018

Tufted Duck take two!

The Tufted Duck was still being seen at “The Hook” in Hood River, so on Monday, November 19, I last-minute asked for the afternoon off, checked in on all of my projects to make sure I could work on them later on that evening, and off I went back up to Hood River with my birding sister Lindsay.

We got to The Hook at around 2:30 pm and knew we had ~2 hours to bird before the lighting would get tricky. We spent nearly those entire 2 hours sifting through hundreds of mostly Lesser Scaups in a few discrete rafts.

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Sifting through hundreds of Lesser Scaup looking for the one Tufted Duck; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Lindsay Willrick.

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A beautiful, cold afternoon at The Hook in Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Tufted Ducks look similar to Lesser Scaups. There are important distinctions of course, but both species are sharp-looking black and white ducks. I focused on looking for the one duck with a black back instead of a grey-ish back. I was also looking for the head tuft. Mixed in with these ducks was also a handful of Ring-necked Ducks, too. Ring-necked Ducks are ALSO sharp-looking black and white ducks, and they have black backs! To make matters even trickier, the duck rafts kept shifting, merging, flying, and re-sorting. It was getting cold. We were hungry. Beer and burgers were down the street. We were ready to give up until we decided to take one final look, with our binoculars, at a smaller raft that flew in near shore.

Why not, right?

AND THERE HE WAS!

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Tufted Duck and Lesser Scaups; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Tufted Duck; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

After 2 hours of eye-straining scoping, we saw him with our frigging binoculars, and then we proceeded to celebrate by jumping up and down and cheering. We called this our happy Tufted Duck dance. We even included this in our eBird notes. Unfortunately these shenanigans of ours scared all of the ducks away.

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Lesser Scaups not putting up with our Tufted Duck dance; The Hook, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018; photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Thankfully, this little nearshore raft came back. I ran to get my camera out of the car while Lindsay relocated Tufty, and as luck would have it, I actually got some shots.

And, finally, we got to celebrate this fine sighting with mugs of hot water followed by beer and burgers at pFriem Brewery.

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Lindsay and Linda post-Tufted Duck dance; pFriem Brewery, Hood River, Oregon; November 19, 2018.

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 252

 

 

November 17, 2018

The Oregon Birding Association holds a handful of high-quality field trips throughout the year. I attended one on November 17 in and near The Dalles, Oregon, birding in Wasco County and part of Sherman County.

Our birding began at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, an interpretive center and history museum about the Columbia River Gorge. The center’s grounds have some ponds and shrubby areas, making it a pretty birdy spot. I got bird 251 here, a Swamp Sparrow. Unfortunately he was too quick for my point-and-shoot camera, so instead, here are photos from the day of the Swamp Sparrow’s pond, a fetching and cooperative Golden-crowned Sparrow, and a Horned Grebe and some coots.

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The Swamp Sparrow’s pond; November 17, 2018; Columbia Gorge Discovery Center;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Golden-crowned Sparrow; November 17, 2018; Columbia Gorge Discovery Center;  photograph by Linda Burfitt.

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Horned Grebe and American Coots; November 17, 2018; Celilo Park, Wasco County, Oregon, photograph by Linda Burfitt.

Before heading back to Salem, we headed to “The Hook” in Hood River, Oregon, to see if we could find the Tufted Duck that had been seen for a few consecutive days. We sifted through the hundreds of Lesser Scaups before we finally had to call it a day because it was getting dark out. I would love to have seen this duck 😦

New Birds for 2018: 1
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 251

October 28, 2018

Oregon gets snow buntings, but they are not common and I think always trigger a rare bird alert. In fact, right now (November 29), there’s a whole pile of snow buntings on the on Del Rey Beach, Clatsop County. I’m not there right now chasing them because a) it’s dark out, and b) I got a snow bunting on October 28, 2018, on Marys Peak in Benton County!

Admittedly, I would love to have chased this pile of buntings today. My time and energy though, at least until December 31, must be reserved to finish this big year strong.

My snow bunting on Marys Peak on October 28  stuck around for a few days, allowing me to get up there with my friend Lindsey on the weekend. The bunting was just hanging out there on the gravel road next to the weather station. The wing flicks were spectacular. My photos are not unfortunately. The lighting was low and fog was around us.

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After a quick trip to the Philomath Sewage Ponds to stalk the seeded sparrow area (hoping for a white-throated sparrow), we called it a day and headed back to our meeting spot in Corvallis. BUT FIRST …. turkeys in a field of the side of the road! Bird 250. Please don’t ask me why it’s take me so long to see wild turkeys. Just don’t.

New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 250

October 20–21, 2018

Despite knowing we really couldn’t beat the sewage pond experience from a few days ago, we took my Dad to the Oregon Coast. Ho hum ;(

On Saturday, October 20, we hiked Cascade Head just north of Lincoln City. I wasn’t expecting to get any new species during this hike, but a Hermit Thrush surprised me! Did you know there’s a Canadian band called Thursh Hermit? Now you do. I saw them a few times way back in the late 90s when I was running around chasing bands instead of birds (actually, I did both!).

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The next day, my Dad opted for a solo visit to the Newport aquarium, and Clint and I birded the area around the aquarium, specifically the South Jetty, to see if the Great Pacific Ocean could grant me a new species or two. It did! I saw four Red-necked Grebes. I also saw a a handful of Common Loons, a species I didn’t think I’d even see this year but have seen a handful of times.

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The Clailborne Pell Bridge (aka the Newport Bridge); east of the South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; October 21, 2018.

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Common Loon; South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; October 21, 2018.

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Common Loon; South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; October 21, 2018.

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Red-necked Grebe; South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; October 21, 2018.

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Red-necked Grebes; South Jetty; Newport, Oregon; October 21, 2018.

New Birds for 2018: 2
2018 Year-to-Date Talley: 248